As I wrote in a previous piece, sometimes what might appear to be a huge medical challenge, such as the Coronavirus, when analyzed more closely, is really a logistical fight. This will be especially true in the development, manufacture, and distribution of test materials and equipment. This is a fight more suited to the private sector than the Center for Disease Control, as has already been most ably demonstrated by our allies, the Republic of (South) Korea.
These United States will ultimately and most assuredly win this fight. Once fully ramped up, our ability to put large amounts of just about anything, where it is most needed is second to none. Which brings us to a point made by my good friend and colleague, Nick Arama, who notes that once we flood the zone with test kits, the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus will take a significant jump. However, that might not portend bad news.
Death is the one relatively firm data point we have for the virus since those in bad condition would likely have made it to the hospital. Yet we still have a very low number there, being in the 40s. [now 68 as of this article].
What does that mean? That means that while the number of people who have been diagnosed with it will jump, the deaths haven’t jumped yet. That means that the actual morbidity rate which people have estimated as somewhere between 1-2% based on what we know now, may likely drop below 1%.
After reading Arama’s piece, I did a little number crunching of my own. I went to the Worldometers web site which keeps a running total of Coronavirus cases, fatalities and other useful tools to analyze this crisis. Here is the link for those of you who would like to delve into the numbers on your own.
First of all, some definitions. For the purposes of this article:
Total Cases-The total persons in the United States who have been infected by Coronavirus (including repatriated citizens/residents).
Total Fatalities—The total persons in the United States who have died from Coronavirus.
Mortality Rate (M/R)—The percentage of persons in the United States who died after contracting Coronavirus.
The left side of the first chart shows a simple table with Date, Infections, Fatality and Mortality Rate. The chart starts with February 29th, as it is the date the first American died on U.S. soil. Note that the Mortality Rate went from 1% to over 7% before declining steadily until it reached just under 2 percent (1.83 as of 2359 GMT, 15- March.
The right side of the chart graphically shows the Mortality Rate and the number of Fatalities. Although we will need more data, it appears that the Mortality Rate appears to be leveling off after a rapid descent. However, as my colleague, Nick Arama, has indicated, this may change as more test kits become available.
This next chart shows how this could work. The table on the left shows the same date range as above. The next column is the Mortality Rate using the number of known infections. Columns 3, 4 and 5 show what the Mortality Rate would be if for each known person infected, there were 1, 2 or 3 others infected but not yet counted.
As my colleague has indicated, as tests become more available, we are very likely to see greatly increased numbers of infected Americans. However, if these trends continue, we could very well see, as Arama has said, mortality rates below 1 percent. I’m not making any scotch wagers just yet, but I am “cautiously optimistic,” and you should be, too.